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Santa Ana is one of the most historic neighborhoods of Panama. In the past, Its plaza was the scene of political rallies, riots and popular fairs. It was right in the heart, of what was then the city center and Central Avenue was a bustling shopping area before it was converted into a pedestrian zone and malls began to appear in Albrook and other parts of the metropolis.
This neighborhood was created on April 29, 1915 under the government of President Belisario Porras, when the city was divided into four areas, Santa Ana being one of them. The others were San Felipe, Calidonia and El Chorrillo.
The center of this area is Santa Ana Plaza and its location was carefully selected, taking into account that it was the highest point in the new area of Casco Viejo. A church was built there in 1678 in honor of Saint Ana, Virgin Mary’s mother.
Initially the park was an empty space, then in it 1892 it was transformed into a closed park with paths, benches and trees. Between 1920 and 1922 a gazebo was built in the middle. Santa Ana’s heyday was in the first 30 years of the XX century, when hotels, cinemas, shops and cafeterias appeared around the plaza. The Grand Hotel was located there as well as the famous Cafe Coca Cola.
Almost all of the buildings around the square are from the XX century with little architectural quality. The neighborhood went into decline over the years, but now it is experiencing a renaissance and has become the anteroom of the Historical Monumental Complex of Casco Antiguo.
The old Amador Theater is a trendy venue where national and international artistes perform and other condemned buildings will become arts galleries in the near future. New apartments blocks are replacing the old wood houses and there is even a new app that will take you on a tour of the area.